Evolution of Magazine Photography
In thinking about photography and the magazine, I realize how different the work has become in the short time since I began working here. My image research continues to involve making phone calls and sending emails to various photography stock houses and independent photographers based on a specific story’s theme, but the process has completely changed. We used to handle managing the flow of thousands of pieces of original art—prints of photographs and original transparencies. Today, the online world makes our research efforts seem endless. Almost everything is digitized so we are handling very little film. A lot of our research can now be accomplished online through various stock photography websites. The sources seem infinite and it never feels like the search is complete. Eventually you get to a place where you know the search is done—that at least you’ve found something appealing that fits in terms of content and composition—and you can move on to the next task at hand.
I also remember attending a photo shoot with photographer Julie Bidwell at an incredibly picturesque orchard in Vermont back in 2003. Scott Farm was also the location for part of the filming of author John Irving’s movie adaptation of his book, The Cider House Rules—a wonderful book and movie too. Julie is just incredible. She makes everything look beautiful and this spot was no exception. Still one of my favorite pieces we’ve run in terms of the opening shots she captured. The misty morning gave the orchard such a dreamy quality—it felt like stepping back in time to a simpler way of life. We also worked to create a still life of several varieties of heirloom apples that day set on a large flat part of an old stone wall. She was still shooting film, capturing Polaroids for us to take a look at both composition and exposure until we felt the shot was there. With digital photography, everything is so immediate, we can look at the real deal on the computer moments after capturing the shot and we know we have what we need or not. To see more of Julie’s work, go to http://www.juliebidwell.com
I do miss the tangible nature of film and photos on occasion. The work of editing is now mostly relegated to the screen on our computers. We rarely edit film on our light table in the hallway outside my office that has become a bit of a dumping ground for books, etc. That’s not to say we don’t ever handle film. We’re currently working on our September/October issue and have had a brief return to the light table. One of our favorite photographers, Sara Gray, is still shooting film and our incredibly talented art director, Lori Pedrick, worked with her last fall to capture what Sara does best. We will be sharing Sara’s beautiful work taken over the course of 6 days last October in her home state of Maine in our fall issue. Sara manages to capture the subtlety of color and light and subject in a way you will truly have to see to appreciate. You can see some of Sara’s work at http://www.saragray.com
Magazine Photography continues to evolve, but I do love that there are those photographers who continue to work the craft. Some recent pieces we’ve produced in the magazine include Paul Wainwright’s work on Meetinghouses (Paul works with a large format camera and 4×5 sheet film and silver gelatin printing) and Alexandra de Steiguer’s work on an island (she also creates hand printed photographs in her darkroom).
And, I definitely am a sucker for buying vintage cameras on e-bay. It’s really fun to shoot from the hip with my brownie reflex. The results are always a bit unknown and you usually end up with some really unexpected frames. Here’s a great site to check out just to see some of the variety of vintage and toy cameras out there. http://www.toycameras.jmlgraphics.com/index.htm.
I also love seeing what the hipstamatic app for the iphone can capture—such cool, retro inspired images. Lori captured a great shot of her son, Emmett, recently. And, of course there is always photoshop, a tool to recreate what you originally captured in a multitude of different ways. Definitely makes me wonder what the next big thing in photography will be, but also makes me love and appreciate that we now have such a variety of options and ways to capture images and life.